Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:03
As a child Thisuri watched her mother write. Malraji Wanniarachchi is the author of several novels and short story collections. It is no surprise that Thisuri followed in her footsteps.
First, Thisuri wrote in the Sinhala language. The Sinhala short story ‘Thaththa’ which she wrote at the age of 11 won a national short story competition. With time Thisuri switched her medium of writing to English and at the age of 12 she sent in her work to an all-island short story competition based on experiences of the 2004 tsunami. Thisuri’s short story ‘The Wind’ won the first prize.
Thisuri studied St. Bridget’s Convent Colombo from kindergarten till her Ordinary Level exams. It was during her time at St. Bridget’s that she wrote her first novel ‘Colombo Streets’. Around the same time she became the first-ever Sri Lankan to receive a scholarship to study writing at the prestigious Kenyon Review of the United States. At the Kenyon Review she was mentored by some of America’s top authors.
After sitting for her Ordinary Level exam she received a full scholarship to study at British School in Colombo. While at The British School, Thisuri’s ‘Colombo Streets’ won the State literary Award for Best novel of the year. Thisuri is the youngest author to win this prestigious award.
The same year Thisuri was nominated to represent Sri Lanka at the Iowa International Writers’ program of the University of Iowa, which is the most celebrated writers program in the United States. The program’s Directors revealed that Thisuri was the youngest author in the world to ever be nominated for this program.
After her Advanced Level exams she was offered the rare opportunity of a 75% scholarship to study for her undergraduate degree at five of America’s top universities – Hampshire College, Amherst College, University of Massachusetts, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College.
While in Massachusetts Thisuri was offered a full scholarship to transfer to Bennington College, where she is today a second year student studying political economy.
Bennington College is a very selective college and admits only around 100 students a year from all around the world. It is the alma mater of great poets and authors such as Nobel Laureates T.S. Elliot and W.H. Auden and Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai. During her first year at Bennington Thisuri wrote ‘The Terrorist’s Daughter’.
‘The Terrorist’s Daughter’ is the story of the privileged youth of a post-conflict society. Civil wars can go on for decades, but when they do come to an end they are like thieves in the night. They just end, leaving entire generations of people orphaned, confused and traumatised. Everyone talks about the death tolls, the war crimes, the winners and the losers, the heroes and fallen villains. But nobody talks about that invisible third party; the children. ‘The Terrorist’s Daughter’ is the story of those invisible children.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke praised the book saying it is Sri Lanka’s best post-war novel and went on to say that Thisuri has written the road map to reconciliation and that the book is a manifesto for Sri Lanka’s Government.